Football: Kiev protest over poor treatment that backfired

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The Independent Online
When Barcelona subjected their Champions' League visitors, Dynamo Kiev, to shabby treatment this week, all they did was fire up the Ukrainians and sow the seeds of a disastrous defeat. Rostislav Khotin reports on the background to the Spaniards' elimination from Europe.

Dynamo Kiev have lodged a formal protest with Uefa over their treatment in Barcelona for Wednesday's European Cup Champions' League Group C encounter.

However, the Kiev side said that the poor hospitality had helped them turn the tables and hand the Spanish League leaders a 4-0 thrashing at the Nou Camp.

The Dynamo coach Valery Lobanovsky, a dour disciplinarian who rarely betrays any satisfaction, said putting seven unanswered goals past Barcelona in the space of two weeks proved that the Ukrainian champions were now a match for Europe's finest.

The Dynamo team were held up for two hours by customs and immigration officials at Barcelona airport on Tuesday, given a sub-standard training pitch and then ordered off another ground by Spanish police, a Dynamo spokesman, Alexei Semenenko, said.

But the disruption to Dynamo's preparations backfired as it added anger to Kiev's determination to consolidate their grip on the "group of death", and knock Barcelona out of the European Cup.

"I don't have to tell you what the mood was after all those problems." Semenenko said, adding that Dynamo officials, among them the former president of Ukraine, were given poor seats. "Barcelona wanted to scalp us," he said. "But they took their own scalp."

Dynamo, 3-0 up by half-time thanks to an Andrei Shevchenko hat-trick, coasted home with a fourth goal from Sergei Rebrov against a Barcelona side reduced to 10 men early in the second half when Sergi was sent off.

The Ukrainians won an ovation from those Spanish fans who had not drifted away long before the end.

"We showed will and character and have proved we can play as equals with the great names of European soccer," Lobanovsky said.

Indeed, denied full points from four games only by two late Newcastle United goals, Dynamo lead the group with 10 points, three ahead of PSV Einhoven, who travel to Kiev for a potential group decider on 26 November.

Barcelona's Rivaldo (right) attempts to avoid the close attentions of Oleg Luzniy of Dynamo Kiev at the Nou Camp on Wednesday Photograph: AFP